“There’s a lot of money in this room tonight, I like it,” Kasseem Dean, aka Swizz Beatz, said as he watched the packed house at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan on Thursday night. The annual Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Dinner had drawn a packed house of supporters. “So don’t be shy when that time comes; don’t be shy, because now more than ever we need to support the legacy of Gordon Parks.
The gala honored Mark Bradford, Laurene Powell Jobs, Tonya Lewis Lee, Spike Lee and Darren Walker with the Gordon Parks Foundation Award throughout the evening, and Bisa Butler, Andre D. Wagner and Nicole R. Fleetwood were announced as the recipients of the foundation’s 2022 scholarship. . Guests included Leonardo DiCaprio, Questlove, event co-chair Swizz Beatz, Maxwell Osbourne – wearing a suit from his new AnOnlyChild label – Reverend Dr. William J. Barber 2nd, Anderson Cooper and Wynton Marsalis.
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“I grew up watching the images created by Gordon Parks, not even knowing it was Gordon Parks as a youngster,” Tonya Lewis Lee said during the aperitif. “His work, these black and white images of everyday people, were so powerful to me that I didn’t even realize it. He showed me that you can use your own art to really make an impact and make a difference. light on things.
Several of the late photographer’s signature photographs were displayed on a wall to greet guests as they entered the room; the prints would be auctioned later that evening.
When asked if any of Parks’ photographs particularly resonated, Lee noted a few that particularly resonated close to home. “We have a few Gordon Parks in my house,” she said, calling the photographer’s famous “American Gothic” image of a woman posing with a broom in front of an American flag and “Invisible Man,” based on the novel by Ralph Ellison. “The one that really strikes me right now is a self-portrait of [Parks] next to his camera,” Lee added.
“In times like this, I think it’s really important to support and support institutions like [the Gordon Parks Foundation]said Bradford, who was then introduced onstage by Cooper. “The work they do is important because it can change lives, it can help artists. It’s a question of longevity and durability.
Dean spoke of this importance as he greeted the crowd after an opening performance by The Roots member Black Thought. “Photography is one of the most powerful mediums in the world,” Dean said, as Parks’ photos were projected onto large display screens flanking the stage. His 1956 image “At Segregated Drinking Fountain,” taken in Alabama in 1956, served as the central backdrop for the evening; one of the women pictured, Cora Taylor, was in the audience as a special guest.
“Gordon Parks was ahead of his time. He was capturing moments that we still live today, he was capturing moments that we still haven’t recovered from, still to this day,” Dean added. “We still have a lot of work to do.”
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